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Lady Lakers get ready for first round

From staff reports

By winning the 2005 Peach Belt Conference Tournament, the Clayton College & State University women's basketball team received an automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Division II national tournament and late Sunday evening, the Lakers learned their opponent and seed.

Clayton State will enter its South Atlantic Regional as the No. 2 seed and face Newberry College, the seventh seed out of the South Atlantic Conference. Tip-off for Friday's game will be 3 p.m. at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, the top seed and host for the 2005 South Atlantic Regional.

If the Lakers win on Friday, they will advance to the play the winner of the game between Carson-Newman, the No. 3 seed, and Fayetteville State, the No. 6 seed.

Newberry will enter the game with an 18-11 record and is coming off a 67-53 loss to the Wingate, the conference's top seed, in the SAC semifinals. The Indians advanced to the semifinal game against Wingate with an upset win over Catwaba 73-59 last Wednesday.

The Indians have been led this season by freshman sensations Carnicha Bellinger and Tonique Frasier. Bellinger, a 5-10 guard, leads the team, averaging 16 points per game, while Frasier, a 6-0 forward, is the team's second leading scorer and top rebounder at 11 points and eight rebounds per contest.

Bellinger, who has led the team in scoring 19 times this season, had 17 points and 10 rebounds against Wingate on Friday, while Frasier poured in 21 points last week in its win over Catawba to go along with Bellinger's 13 rebounds.

Newberry has had some success this season against several Peach Belt Conference teams, defeating USC Aiken, Lander, USC Upstate and Kennesaw State. All four of the wins were by seven points or less. The only loss the Indians had against a PBC team came at the hands of Columbus State 82-74.

Clayton State faced Newberry once in women's basketball with that game coming last year. The Lakers defeated the Indians 77-42. Carlie Anderson led the way for the Lakers with 22 points in the game.

Clayton State is riding a school record 10-game winning streak and is coming off a thrilling 83-76 overtime victory over Columbus State in the finals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.

Junior Jasmine Patterson was the hero, pouring in a career and school record 35 points in the game, garnering the Most Valuable Player award for the tournament. Patterson hit big shot after big shot down the stretch and came just two points shy of tying the single game PBC Tournament record for points in a game of 37 set by Columbus' Que Gilliam in 1997.

Of Patterson's 35 points, 26 of them came after halftime when the Lakers trailed 37-33 at the break. All-Tournament player Jamika Hindsman finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals, while Shelcey Harp had 15 points, eight boards, three assists and three steals.

Clayton State's appearance in the NCAA Division II National Tournament will be a first since the program has been competing at the Division II level since 1997-98.

For a full bracket for the Division II tournament, please visit the NCAA site at ncaasports.com.